Princess Jellyfish, vol. 4

9781632362315_manga-princess-jellyfish-volume-4-primary.jpgBuilding off of the last volume, there were some interesting developments in these chapters! I especially liked the hints of passion, Chihayafuru-style, presented towards the back end.

The volume opens mid-fashion show, and though it’s slow-going due to some mishaps (they spill grape juice on the moon jelly dress..!! drama!), it is a resounding success for their makeshift new brand, as they get some requests for new orders.

The Amars do their best to keep up pace with the influx of orders, but being amateurs, they struggle a lot. This prompts Kuranosuke to seek out a company to contract the sewing and production out to, so they can focus on design work. This introduces a cute pair of Indian expats into the mix, who give Kuranosuke a run for his money.

The second half of the book is where things get really interesting.

First, Inari calls Amamizu specifically to tell Tsukimi her fashion show was a waste of time, and that it won’t help with the anti-redevelopment efforts. This crushes not just Tsukimi, but all of the Amars, as it very clearly wasn’t a waste of time for them. For all their groaning throughout, it’s clear they put a lot of energy into their work.

Second, the Indian couple really put Kuranosuke in his place when discussing the cost of contracting as a whole. Kuranosuke is deadset on prioritizing haute couture pieces for the new brand, but the couple reinforce by their pricing that to succeed in fashion means going outside of one’s comfort zone, and expanding to as many markets as possible. I’ve always been conflicted about Kuranosuke’s pushiness towards the Amars since the very beginning, so it was nice to see him be put in his place.

Lastly, the Amars themselves have their own doubts about the likelihood of success and their ability to effectively contribute to the overall effort. Each one runs away to different parts of Tokyo, engaging in different conversations. So far, Jiji has come back energized and willing to learn new skills to help the brand, which emboldens Kuranosuke.

I’ve been enjoying Princess Jellyfish since the beginning, but I admit the character development up to now has been a little slow to get going. This volume picks up the pace in really meaningful ways. I’m so stoked to see that the Amars are passionate about the new brand, at least in the sense that they found the time they put into it valuable. Inari may have a point from her perspective that it’s a hollow gesture, but to see these women band together was special, and to know that they valued it as much as we did is kind of spectacular. In line with that thought, it’s natural that they’d feel burnout over the major push they had to make to get the dresses done for the show. The way they had to take a step back and reevaluate felt very real to me. Though Princess Jellyfish can be a bit cartoonish and wacky, Tsukimi’s sense of doubt and lack of confidence makes it feel real. This volume takes great strides to make her housemates just as real. I find I really love josei manga for its down-to-earth, introspective qualities, and while Princess Jellyfish had that in spurts before, here it’s on full-display. I couldn’t be happier with the progress Amars have made.

Princess Jellyfish is written and illustrated by Higashimura Akiko. It was serialized in Kodansha’s Kiss magazine from 2008 to 2016, and it was later collected in 17 bound volumes. The series has been licensed by Kodansha Comics, which has been releasing the series in 2-in-1 omnibus format. Eight omnibus volumes have been released as of April 2018. Check out Kodansha Comics’ page for the series here.

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